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Healthcare Clinics in Refugee and IDP Camps

 Over 30% of referrals are urgent.

Healthcare Clinics in Refugee and IDP Camps

The Kurdistan area of Northern Iraq has seen a significant increase in the number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing  the Syrian civil war and the rise in violence in Iraq due to the advance of Daesh. Living conditions for civilians in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria have worsened dramatically, with thousands of people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. The luckiest ones are able to stay with friends or relatives, or rent houses or rooms in safer areas. The less fortunate are housed in camps set up in recent years by the Kurdish authorities and international bodies. Living conditions are often difficult, as there aren’t always enough tents for everyone, running water and electricity come and go, and the weather often exacerbates these problems: scorching hot in the summer, freezing temperatures and snow in the winter.

Most of the illnesses amongst these patients, such as gastrointestinal infections, skin infections, and respiratory diseases, are the consequence of the poor hygiene and sanitary conditions in the camps.

In 2014, EMERGENCY opened two Health Centres to provide free primary healthcare in the Iraqi IDP and Syrian refugee camps in Arbat (handed over in 2017). Faced by growing needs and the continuous opening of new camps, EMERGENCY decided to expand its operations in Iraq. Three new Centres were established: two in the Qoratu and Tazade Iraqi IDP camps in the Kalar area, the other one in the Ashti Iraqi IDP camp in the Arbat area. In early 2016, EMERGENCY began constructing a new Health Centre to provide coverage for the expansion of the Ashti camp. To ensure the necessary care right from the start, we set up our mobile clinic and arranged a specific area with two tents that will act as a clinic until the new Centre is ready.

The main medical conditions identified in these camps in 2015 were respiratory tract disorders (33%), gastrointestinal infections (4%) and skin infections (7%) and urinary tract infections (6%). The Health Centres have also become a focal point for patients affected by chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. In addition, the two Arbat clinics provide gynaecological and midwifery services for women along with assistance for immunisation, growth control and children’s nutrition.

Arbat Area

In addition to providing basic healthcare, the centres in Arbat, which operated between 2014-2017, offered gynaecological and obstetric care for women, an immunisation program, as well as a nutritional growth monitoring service for children under five years of age in conjunction with local health authorities. The Health Centre in the Arbat Syrian refugee camp was co-funded by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Health Centre in the Arbat Iraqi IDP camp was co-funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Ashti Clinic

In June 2016, EMERGENCY opened a new health care clinic in the Ashti IDP camp. The clinic provides high quality care for the camp’s 16,000 inhabitants, a number which is continuing to increase with hundreds of families arriving daily from the nearby Arbat camp. The clinic’s tents are fitted out with an area for doctors, and a bathroom. There’s also air-conditioning and a shaded area where patients can be examined.

Kalar Area

EMERGENCY is working around the area of Kalar, providing free treatment for Iraqi refugees living in IDP camps, who have fled from the conflict and advance of Daesh in other parts of Iraq.

Qoratu Clinic

In early May 2015, EMERGENCY opened a health care centre at the Qoratu IDP camp (handed over in 2017) in tandem with the opening of the camp itself. Qoratu was initially occupied by 50 families, but the number has grown rapidly, with many people coming from the Kulajo area. Many of the patients are people EMERGENCY has already treated at the mobile clinic in the Salah-Aga area, and so the centre at Qoratu enables a degree of continuity in the care our staff are able to provide. We have also initiated a programme of Health Promotion, training volunteers from the camp in how to educate other residents on good health practices and sanitation, particularly in relation to dehydration and diarrhoea.

Mobile Clinic

EMERGENCY staff also operate a mobile clinic in the Kalar area, donated by the World Health Organisation to local health authorities, which enables us to provide care to Iraqi refugees across the area.

Tazade Clinic

EMERGENCY completed the structure of its heath centre in Tazade in July 2015. The centre provides healthcare for the residents of the IDP camp. Raul, the architect who designed the centre, wrote about the challenges of building it, but said that he was proud to have created something which would facilitate the high-quality care EMERGENCY provides: “Quality sites for quality healthcare, this is the idea we believe in.”


In February 2015, the health centre in Khanaqin was successfully handed over to and is now managed by local health authorities. This centre was co-funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Programme Data

Start of clinical activities: July 2014

Activities: Basic healthcare.

National staff: 171

Arbat Syrian Refugee Camp

Examinations: 122,941

Patients referred to specialists: 10,020

Health promotion activities beneficiaries: 138,099

Arbat IDPs Camp

Examinations: 96,778

Patients referred to specialists: 9,841

Health promotion activities beneficiaries: 94,344

Qoratu IDPs Camp

Examinations: 29,350

Patients referred to specialists: 1,770

Health promotion activities beneficiaries: 28,782

Examinations carried out in mobile clinic: 475

Tazade IDPs Camp

Examinations: 64,753

Patients referred to specialists: 3,709

Health promotion activities beneficiaries: 51,271

Ashti IDPs Camp

Examinations: 168,949

Patients referred to specialists: 13,537

Health promotion activities beneficiaries: 203,042

(Data correct as of 31 December, 2017)

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